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What will the next global conflict look like? Find out in this ripping, near-futuristic thriller. The United States, China, and Russia eye each other across a twenty-first century version of the Cold War, which suddenly heats up at sea, on land, in the air, in outer space, and in cyberspace. The fighting involves everything from stealthy robotic–drone strikes to old warshi What will the next global conflict look like? Find out in this ripping, near-futuristic thriller. The United States, China, and Russia eye each other across a twenty-first century version of the Cold War, which suddenly heats up at sea, on land, in the air, in outer space, and in cyberspace. The fighting involves everything from stealthy robotic–drone strikes to old warships from the navy’s “ghost fleet.” Fighter pilots unleash a Pearl Harbor–style attack; American veterans become low-tech insurgents; teenage hackers battle in digital playgrounds; Silicon Valley billionaires mobilize for cyber-war; and a serial killer carries out her own vendetta. Ultimately, victory will depend on blending the lessons of the past with the weapons of the future. Ghost Fleet is a page-turning speculative thriller in the spirit of The Hunt for Red October. The debut novel by two leading experts on the cutting edge of national security, it is unique in that every trend and technology featured in the novel — no matter how sci-fi it may seem — is real, or could be soon.    


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What will the next global conflict look like? Find out in this ripping, near-futuristic thriller. The United States, China, and Russia eye each other across a twenty-first century version of the Cold War, which suddenly heats up at sea, on land, in the air, in outer space, and in cyberspace. The fighting involves everything from stealthy robotic–drone strikes to old warshi What will the next global conflict look like? Find out in this ripping, near-futuristic thriller. The United States, China, and Russia eye each other across a twenty-first century version of the Cold War, which suddenly heats up at sea, on land, in the air, in outer space, and in cyberspace. The fighting involves everything from stealthy robotic–drone strikes to old warships from the navy’s “ghost fleet.” Fighter pilots unleash a Pearl Harbor–style attack; American veterans become low-tech insurgents; teenage hackers battle in digital playgrounds; Silicon Valley billionaires mobilize for cyber-war; and a serial killer carries out her own vendetta. Ultimately, victory will depend on blending the lessons of the past with the weapons of the future. Ghost Fleet is a page-turning speculative thriller in the spirit of The Hunt for Red October. The debut novel by two leading experts on the cutting edge of national security, it is unique in that every trend and technology featured in the novel — no matter how sci-fi it may seem — is real, or could be soon.    

30 review for Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michael Burnam-Fink

    Ghost Fleet is a kind of modern update to Red Storm Rising, where a couple of strategic types write up their vision of a future war. In this case, it's China and the US in the Pacific, with cyberwar, spacewar, and drones against good old fashioned American military professionalism. Unfortunately, it fails to live up to its vision, and the workman-like writing isn't enough to compensate. Let's talk about the tech first, since that's what we're here for. This book is basically one giant sloppy blow Ghost Fleet is a kind of modern update to Red Storm Rising, where a couple of strategic types write up their vision of a future war. In this case, it's China and the US in the Pacific, with cyberwar, spacewar, and drones against good old fashioned American military professionalism. Unfortunately, it fails to live up to its vision, and the workman-like writing isn't enough to compensate. Let's talk about the tech first, since that's what we're here for. This book is basically one giant sloppy blowjob for the Zumwalt-class destroyer and the naval railgun. I'd estimate a solid third of the book is just talking about the difficulties in getting the railgun operational, and then marveling when it blows up every military target in Hawaii with hypersonic rounds. Space and cyber get a lot of detail as well, as the first real crippling blow is a Chinese space station using a laser cannon to take out American surveillance and communications satellites. Cyber attacks further jam networks in those first critical hours, and hardware vulnerabilities built into chips turn the F-35 into a beacon for radar guided missiles. The Littoral Combat Ship sucks in combat, and the Chinese develop a hard counter for American strategic power with a ballistic missile that homes in on Cherenkov radiation from submarine and aircraft carrier nuclear reactors. Soldiers are hopped to the gills on stim pills and some have cybernetic implants. But there's also a lot to dislike in the depictions of the tech in this book. The hacking is just warmed over Gibsonian cyberspace. True, real hacking is dull, but more could've been done with deception in cyberspace, and the difference in effectiveness between having a network and up and not having one. Same with the drones, which have some nice terrorizing moments with Chinese quadcopter swarms, but don't do anything particularly interesting. In fact, for a book which is supposed to showcase a generational shift in war, it really ducks away from issues in autonomy, swarming, supply chains, and technological-economic warfare, aside from the hacked Chinese supplied microchips. The Hawaiian insurgency, and the whole "Red Dawn++ scenario" of how heavily armed and networked Americans might coordinate against invaders is just wasted. The authors want to give the sense that the book is accurate by throwing up model numbers for missiles and planes, but there's little sense of how it fits together. An ironic failure for a book who's strongest selling point is "a vision of future war." On literary merits, this book just barely hits serviceable. A constant problem in the short choppy chapters are characters reacting with surprise to things we already know as readers. The first chunk of the book is supposed to be "business as normal" to amplify the shock of the Chinese sneak attack, but the very first scene has Russian astronauts murdering the sole American on the ISS for no reason (Was he going to call down fleet movements by eye from the observation window?), robbing the book of essential tension. The human heart of the story, the development of Jamie Simmons as Captain of the USS Zumwalt while dealing with his daddy issues with his father Senior Chief Mike Simmons, was just filler. The only really unique character is the serial killer taking out Chinese officers in Hawaii, and the Russian detective stalking her, who seem like they're lifted from a cheesier universe, but are at least a different point-of-view from the all the military types. The pacing is both staccato and too slow, major sins for a technothriller. There are a few moments that made me smile as the book embraced the ridiculousness of the premise: The Hawaiian resistance calling itself the North Shore Mujaheddin as an ironic homage to the foe of Afghanistan, Yemen, and Kenya; an eccentric Australian-British billionaire demanding a letter of marque for space piracy; The F-35B actually using it's VTOL capabilities in combat. But this book isn't nearly as good as the press suggests.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Spencer

    The writing is so horrific. I've never read so much old-man cursing or so many "adverbs," he said somethingly. But the writing isn't the point of this book. It's a showcase of defense technology in an imaginary war. On that front, it's a partial success. It's kind of cool to read about how, for example, a rail gun would be operationally beneficial or how drones could be integrated into air to air combat. However, Clausewitz would roll over in his grave reading this. The imaginary war starts beca The writing is so horrific. I've never read so much old-man cursing or so many "adverbs," he said somethingly. But the writing isn't the point of this book. It's a showcase of defense technology in an imaginary war. On that front, it's a partial success. It's kind of cool to read about how, for example, a rail gun would be operationally beneficial or how drones could be integrated into air to air combat. However, Clausewitz would roll over in his grave reading this. The imaginary war starts because China attacks the United States for...reasons with no apparent objective. Even more puzzling, Russia is allied with China because...unclear. That's fine for a video game, but strategic goals shape the force structure and procurement decisions, which is what this book is about in the end. Too many defense analysts divorce strategy from budgets and procurement to their detriment. Sadly, Singer is no different in that respect.

  3. 5 out of 5

    John Birmingham

    Short review. I loved it. If you enjoyed the Tom Clancy school of the 1980s and would like to see them redone with modern and future technology, just go buy it. Longer, more considered review. It's lucky Tom Clancy wasn't able to put hyperlinks all the way through his books. Not in the early years, anyway. This is what they would look like. A military thriller in which every mention of weapons technology is hyperlinked to an explanatory source. But even more than that, there are hundreds of other i Short review. I loved it. If you enjoyed the Tom Clancy school of the 1980s and would like to see them redone with modern and future technology, just go buy it. Longer, more considered review. It's lucky Tom Clancy wasn't able to put hyperlinks all the way through his books. Not in the early years, anyway. This is what they would look like. A military thriller in which every mention of weapons technology is hyperlinked to an explanatory source. But even more than that, there are hundreds of other inexplicable links which break up the experience of just letting the story carry you along. It's an artefact of the authors' deeper purpose — to spin a cautionary tale for policymakers as much as for readers. But seriously, I really didn't need the footnote explaining how Arnold Palmer had been commissioned to design that golf course on which Marine Corps Osprey's were setting down. Just land the damn aircraft and start blowing things up. Sheesh. I bring this up before even getting to what Ghost Fleet is about because those footnotes are going to piss a lot of people off. I tried to turn them off on my Kobo but couldn't find the appropriate checkbox. Maybe it would be easier on a Kindle or an iPad. That minor aggravation aside (I managed to stop noticing them the same way we train ourselves not to see banner ads online) and with all the usual caveats, I really did enjoy this book. Ghost Fleet is very Red Storm Rising, one of my favourite Tom Clancy books. It's set in the near future, the exact date being left vague, but feeling like twenty years out to me. That's long enough to bring a lot of cutting edge technology into the mainstream, but not so far removed from our present concerns as to morph into science fiction. China is ascendant, but the Communist Party has been swept away. The emergent hyperpower is ruled by a nationalist cabal of billionaire tycoons and the military. The US is not just in relative decline; a series of foreign policy misadventures and economic travails find it in absolute decline. China's ruling clique, which styles itself as the Directorate, discovers vast reserves of natural gas on the floor of the Pacific in an area still controlled by America. They decide the time has come for Washington to learn a few ugly realities about the new blanace of power. Or what the old Sovs would have called 'the correlation of forces'. And so we come to the point, or rather the first point of this novel, a tour de force examination of just how US could be driven out of the Pacific in our lifetimes. The Chinese plan is not far removed from scenarios being war gamed by all of the great powers right now. The guilty pleasure of Ghost Fleet is seeing the scenario building worked out in narrative form. Like Clancy, Singer and Cole, deploy a broad canvas with a loss of storytellers. They do return to a couple of favourites however, a Navy captain who fights his LCS out of Pearl Harbor when it the Pacific Fleet is attacked there, his old man, a retired Navy chief petty officer who is recalled to service with thousands of other old salts when the 7th Fleet is destroyed, a female Marine who turns insurgent when Hawaii is invaded, a Chinese-American scientist whose research holds the key to a counter-attack, and one of my particular favourites a British-Australian billionaire turned space pirate. (Seriously, this character is great fun and provides the only comic relief in an otherwise pretty serious endeavour). There are dozens of others. No it's not Tolstoy. It doesn't even make a pretense at being fine writing. A lot of the secondary characters are just Lego pieces to click into place when building the story, and although the writers take some time with their favourite characters to fill out their back stories and emotional lives, it's largely a paint by numbers exercise. So fucking what. You don't judge these books by the standards of Tolstoy. You judge them on their own merits, and I judged Ghost Fleet to be such enormous fun that I decided to take a day off work to finish reading it in one big, guilty binge. It helped that I had a bit of a hangover after the Melbourne Writers Festival. I was able to convince myself I would not have done any worthwhile work on my own books. Also, it made me think I should really write some more stuff like this. A lot of the pacing, character, and formatting problems (those hyperlinks!) fall away as the story begins to accelerate under its own momentum. By the time the US has put together its counterstrike (the second real point of the book) most of the lumpiness of the early narrative has smoothed out and it's a fast run to a very satisfying conclusion. I enjoyed it. I'm happy to recommend the purchase.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Shanthanu

    I give up. When every single character and their grandmother engage in a discussion about the recent changes (speculative, the book is set in our near future ) in Chinese foreign policy that sounds like a white paper by some neocon think-tank, what you're reading feels less like a novel and more like badly written fan-fic by a couple of teens who just want to talk about all the cool weaponry they're salivating over in pornographic detail. Add to that the 3 page chapters which result in very abru I give up. When every single character and their grandmother engage in a discussion about the recent changes (speculative, the book is set in our near future ) in Chinese foreign policy that sounds like a white paper by some neocon think-tank, what you're reading feels less like a novel and more like badly written fan-fic by a couple of teens who just want to talk about all the cool weaponry they're salivating over in pornographic detail. Add to that the 3 page chapters which result in very abrupt changes of perspective and scene that make it hard to remember who the various characters are. What is truly scary is the praise that this book has received from so many highly placed people in administrative and defense circles, indicative of what they think is an actual analysis of threats and potential responses – or more likely what will serve as good cover and justification for directions they want to take policy in anyway.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    0.5⭐ To date, this is the worst book of 2020. I managed to make it one quarter of the way through before gagging to a halt. Xenophobic, jingoistic and hugely derivative tale of a sneak attack on the US by China with Russian cooperation(?). The characters are stiff and unbelievable, the dialogue is inane. Never is a coherent explanation offered for the attack(there's a scene about red and blue lines on a map and China's Manifest Destiny, and some talk about an undersea gas field, that's it). All th 0.5⭐ To date, this is the worst book of 2020. I managed to make it one quarter of the way through before gagging to a halt. Xenophobic, jingoistic and hugely derivative tale of a sneak attack on the US by China with Russian cooperation(?). The characters are stiff and unbelievable, the dialogue is inane. Never is a coherent explanation offered for the attack(there's a scene about red and blue lines on a map and China's Manifest Destiny, and some talk about an undersea gas field, that's it). All the Chinese technology was either stolen or copied from the US; none of the American technology (up to and including refrigerators and toilets) works because all the microchips were made by the Chinese (who are secretly the Cylons, it appears). One of its blurbs compares this book to Tom Clancy. This is nothing like Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising from the Cold War era, which was a well plotted and competently written story along similar lines (except Russians instead of Chinese do the invading). Even after all these years, Clancy's is the far better book. In summary, there's no redeeming value to this book whatsoever. Rather, it's disturbing due to its stealthy, "yellow peril" xenophobia (despite its efforts at disguise with a sympathetic Chinese American character-not fooling anybody).

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nick Black

    totally unreadable. dialogue on the level of LaHaye and Jenkins's execrable Left Behind. they said this was the new tom clancy; this isn't even the new larry bond OOOOH SICK 90s TECHNOTHRILLER BURN. i will be giving this book away. totally unreadable. dialogue on the level of LaHaye and Jenkins's execrable Left Behind. they said this was the new tom clancy; this isn't even the new larry bond OOOOH SICK 90s TECHNOTHRILLER BURN. i will be giving this book away.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    No rating, did not finish. Not really a novel, it seemed more of an attempt to alarm complacent Americans about the possible uses of emerging technology in a war between China and the United States. Basically, China, allied somehow with Russia, Pearl Harbors us--in space, on the ground, and at sea (including, literally, Pearl Harbor). The authors attempt to humanize the narrative with recurring characters, but they're not really trying: the heart of every chapter is a technical description of an No rating, did not finish. Not really a novel, it seemed more of an attempt to alarm complacent Americans about the possible uses of emerging technology in a war between China and the United States. Basically, China, allied somehow with Russia, Pearl Harbors us--in space, on the ground, and at sea (including, literally, Pearl Harbor). The authors attempt to humanize the narrative with recurring characters, but they're not really trying: the heart of every chapter is a technical description of another bit of technology and how it may be bent to warlike purposes, and boy we'd better keep our guard up against the Yellow Peril. One reviewer commented that the book comes across as the product of a neocon think tank. Other reviewers describe it as second- or third-rate Tom Clancy. Yeah, pretty much.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Vheissu

    An enjoyable techno-thriller. It's not literature, and it's not political, but it will doubtlessly entertain the legions of Tom Clancy fans (of whom I am not one). When I write that the book is "not political," I mean that it makes no serious attempt to explore the political aspects of "the next world war." As an international relations specialist, I found that strikingly odd. (view spoiler)[The UN Security Council, the president of the United States, even the Canadians are MIA. The Europeans--wi An enjoyable techno-thriller. It's not literature, and it's not political, but it will doubtlessly entertain the legions of Tom Clancy fans (of whom I am not one). When I write that the book is "not political," I mean that it makes no serious attempt to explore the political aspects of "the next world war." As an international relations specialist, I found that strikingly odd. (view spoiler)[The UN Security Council, the president of the United States, even the Canadians are MIA. The Europeans--with the exception of the Brits, who don't add much to the story--are cowed by Chinese power and trade; NATO dissolved even though Russia joins the enemy. No reparations for naked aggression? This story isn't even about world war, it's about a second Pacific War. (hide spoiler)] I presume the authors consciously chose not to address the political implications of such a war, preferring to focus on the miitary-hardware-software aspects of battle. I can't criticize writers about a book they didn't write. I think a bit of political context, however, would have made this a more interesting book for me.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Charles

    Military Science Fiction\Political Thriller\Murder Mystery mashup. My paperback dead tree copy was a moderate 379 pages with a US 2015 copy write. This book was co-authored. P. W. Singer is an American political scientist, an international relations scholar and a specialist on 21st century warfare. He is the author of six (6) non-fiction books. This is his first work of fiction. August Cole is an American writer, analyst, and consultant, and a former defense industry reporter for The Wall Military Science Fiction\Political Thriller\Murder Mystery mashup. My paperback dead tree copy was a moderate 379 pages with a US 2015 copy write. This book was co-authored. P. W. Singer is an American political scientist, an international relations scholar and a specialist on 21st century warfare. He is the author of six (6) non-fiction books. This is his first work of fiction. August Cole is an American writer, analyst, and consultant, and a former defense industry reporter for The Wall Street Journal. He is the author of one fiction book. This is the first book I’ve read by either of the authors. Firstly, it is not necessary to have any previous military, military history, or engineering background to be reading this book. Frankly, having this type of background may detract from enjoying the book. However, it would be helpful in understanding the technological warfare aspect of the story which was its major theme. This book was part of the long tradition of modern, hypothetical war novels first made popular in the 1980’s by books like Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising and John W. Hackett’s The Third World War: August 1985. These books include a detailed military narrative of a future war against the west’s (typically American) opponents. The military ‘science’ was presented as a story. Interestingly, many of these stories adopt the same format. That is, many very short chapters, each from a different character’s POV describing a different aspect of the combat: air, sea, land and now near space. Advanced weapons systems and high technology were always involved. Set in 2030, this book should be considered a near-future, military science fiction in that tradition. Interestingly, it contained footnotes. Writing was technically good. The authors’ journalistic and technical backgrounds shone through. It was written in a clear, unaffected manner. I’ve seen this in the past, with a competent ‘writing team’ the narrative comes out well groomed, at least prose-wise. The book was also well proofread. The narrative contains a lot of vivid details in illustrative scenes from both sides of the conflict. Dialog was good too. If I had an issue, it was that the very short, chapters with changing POVs did not leave me invested in any of the characters. There were ten or more POVs in the story. Frankly, that was about a half-dozen too many. First amongst equals was Jamie Simmons. He was the anchoring US naval officer’s POV. His perspective as typical of a promising, mid-career, naval officer. J. Simmons received the most development of all the characters. Mike Simmons, Jamie's father provided the senior enlisted, contrasting, perspective between the ‘old’ (1990s-2000s) navy and the new. Father and son ending-up on the same ship could never happen in the Navy. "Conan” Doyle, USMC was a Marine pilot who leads an insurgency in occupied Hawaii. She provided the asymmetric warfare perspective reflecting the current US military engagements in the middle east "back at" the Chinese invaders. Doyle was reasonably well developed. Daniel Aboye was a Silicon Valley Name, who just happened to be a refugee immigrant. His perspective was that of the diversity and Darwinist evolution of American tech was deeper, more versatile and dangerous than directed, state-sponsored hacking and outright theft of technology. Vlad Markov was a Russian counter-insurgency specialist seconded to the Chinese Hawaiian occupation. He was there to abet the serial murder, mystery sub-plot and be the occupier’s counterpoint to Doyle. Markov was reasonably well developed. Admiral Wang Xiaoqian was the Chinese naval counterpoint to Simmons (the son). Sir Aeric Cavendish was the billionaire freebooter. His perspective was to show how private enterprise was more effective in exploiting The High Frontier than state efforts. General Sergei Sechin was a libidinous, older, Russian opposed to the Russian/Chinese alliance. He was spying on behalf of the Americans. Carrie Shin was a Hawaiian who became a serial killer after having a psychic break as a result of the occupation. She was the antagonist in the murder mystery sub-plot. Note that unless called out, most of these POV contributing characters were very thin. For example Cavendish was cartoonish and Xiaoqian was the: stereotypical, evil, Asian mastermind. In addition, there were numerous NPCs. Some had almost the development of the weaker POV characters. For example, General Yu Xilai the Chinese commander of the Hawaiian occupation was the personification of how not to run an occupation. There were also many ‘disposable’ characters that appeared for only one or two of the brief chapters. They were soldier, sailor, airmen/women and Marine Red Shirts and survivors of both sides; bureaucrats; technocrats; Hawaiian victims of the occupation; hackers; mercenaries; and astronauts. The book contained sex, drugs, violence, crude language and a small amount of music references. Consensual sex was abstracted, but tastefully done. Note that rapes were implied in the story. Softcore drugs were consumed. Liquor was consumed to the state of drunkenness. The abuse of stimulants by the military personnel was implied. Violence was: physical, edged-weaponed, firearms, and military-grade heavy weapons. Violence was not gory and only mildly descriptive. As in many thrillers, the protagonist(s) were more resistant to harm than mere mortals. Body count was high. (There was a war on.) There were several good examples of the way folks in the military speak. I always find this type of dialog entertaining in its creative use of profanity. Music references came from: discos, clubs and titty bars frequented by off-duty military. The plot was that in 2030, Chinese Manifest Destiny leads them to seek hegemony over the Pacific basin with the aid of the Russians. In an: air, sea, land, space, cyberspace coup de main they eliminate the US military presence in the Asia/Pacific basin and occupy Hawaii. The US rallies, corrects many of its deficiencies and through its innate strength and advantages restores the situation to the status quo ante bellum. First and foremost, this story was a techno-fest. The story was there to support the technology. Unfortunately, the levels of detail was very uneven; from incredibly detailed to abject hand waving. In some places the authors’ scenarios were very credible, while with others they had obviously over-indulged in Hawaii’s finest sativa--Kona Gold. Throughout, I found myself toggling my suspension of belief on and off. For example, the complete pwn of the F-35 avionics was fantastical. I happen to know a bit about: highly available, mission critical, systems. They can be hacked with enough time and labor. However, to the degree described within the F-35 HUD, the scenario showed no true understanding of the engineering and physics involved in avionics. A Mylar, anti-static bag or a random, software update could foil that too sophisticated hack involving a chipset embedded for years within that system. Also a hack like that typically only works once. I had particular problems with the authors being too quick to dispense with inconvenient time and distance. There was no sense of time in the book's micro chapters. The Pacific is vast. Ocean freight from Shanghai to Hawaii can easily take 30-days. There’s a lot that can go wrong and needing to go unnoticed for a large, PLA Amphibious invasion force to leave China undiscovered and appear in Oahu a month later. In ships not built for troop transport, I'd be surprised if a large portion of the force wasn't rendered ineffective by the journey? The same was true with the climactic naval battle. The combined Chinese/Russian fleet crossed the wintry, northern Pacific from the Kamchatka peninsula to the Hawaiian Islands through submarine infested waters almost instantaneously. That’s about 3000 miles. At the highest warship speed (~25 knots), and not taking anti-submarine measures, and in the fairest weather that could easily take about 5-days. I also had a minor issue with some of the scenes. The authors did not write about San Francisco, the Valley or Oahu like they had lived there. The resident characters were like tourists. For example, there was no feel for the three demographics of Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, Asians and whites (Haoles) on Oahu, or how once off the beach at Waikiki it’s like an urban mall. I also thought that because of the cabotage of the Jones Act imports like: foodstuffs, liquor and other luxury goods, clothing, petroleum products and spare parts would more quickly be in short supply when the logistics pipelines to the mainland were severed due to the Chinese occupation. This hardship really wasn’t described. Finally, I found the politics of the story to be very contrived. At the very beginning they were interesting. For example, forecasting Indonesia as a failed state. Then it was downhill from there. That the story ended with the Pacific returning to the status quo ante bellum was just silly. This book is a hybrid-fiction/non-fiction work. Nothing sells like sex and this was a sexy demonstration of the authors' prowess as 21st Century Warfare analysts for their Washington DC consultancies. However, putting aside the techno-bling of future air/land/sea/ space warfare it was pretty thin sauce. There were either too many plots or too few pages. I thought that the plots each with its separate protagonist lacked development. The authors had so many plots they forgot to tie-up a couple of them at the end. The book either needed an additional 150-200 pages, or fewer protagonists. Dumping the Black Widow murder mystery sub-plot would have been my first suggestion. I also could not avoid thinking the basic thesis of the book was jingoistic and advocating autarky. Many books of this 'future war' sub-genre do. However, if you’re a MIL-tech geek this would be a fine beach read, if you don’t look too closely at the details. Although a bit dated, I recommend reading The Third World War: August 1985. This was a very real description of modern, mechanized warfare. Also Red Storm Rising to which this book has its naval roots. Finally, for a better description of Asian/Pacific basin politics Asia's Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tieryas

    An incredible what-if of the next World War, hearkens back to the Tom Clancy novels I loved. I really appreciate how it delves into so many details and makes war feel so palpable. I seriously love geeking out over all the techie details =)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Frank Theising

    Recommended by my peers in professional military circles. I had high hopes for this one based on my favorable opinion of Singer’s nonfiction books (both interesting and informative). Unfortunately, I found it lacking both as a novel and as a strategic thought-piece. In Ghost Fleet - A Novel of the Next World War, Singer sets out to warn against US dependence on vulnerable technologies (GPS, cyberspace, etc), the components of which are largely manufactured overseas, as well as draw attention to Recommended by my peers in professional military circles. I had high hopes for this one based on my favorable opinion of Singer’s nonfiction books (both interesting and informative). Unfortunately, I found it lacking both as a novel and as a strategic thought-piece. In Ghost Fleet - A Novel of the Next World War, Singer sets out to warn against US dependence on vulnerable technologies (GPS, cyberspace, etc), the components of which are largely manufactured overseas, as well as draw attention to the potential wartime application of other new technologies (drones, facial recognition, additive manufacturing (aka 3D printing), etc). In this I would argue he is only mildly successful, in part because the story is so implausible that it is hard to take seriously. There are some good ideas in this book, you just have to wade through a lot of garbage that comes with them. This is Singer’s first crack at writing fiction and it shows. So before diving into the more substantive critique of the ideas, here are my issues with this book as a novel: First off, there are way too many characters, all of them either underdeveloped or lazy caricatures. Even if you keep track of them all, you never really feel invested in any of them and consequently don’t care what happened to them. Second, the dialogue is atrocious. The conversations of sailors and prostitutes in the novel (as imagined by a couple of academics in their DC Think Tank) is like listening to Michael Scott from The Office describe what life is like in prison. Third, Singer just can’t help himself with military jargon, acronyms, and the phonetic alphabet. It is so pervasive in the novel that it just feels like he is trying to show off his vast knowledge about military weapon systems. Finally, the ending is a total disappointment. It just abruptly ends mid-battle and then jumps to a short epilogue letting you know we have just decided to go back to the way things were before the war. Now onto the more substantive critique of Singer’s view of future war. Obviously, nobody can tell you exactly what war is going to look like in the future, but I’m fairly confident it will not resemble the future world war as imagined in this novel. Before I can go into my specific criticisms, let me give you a brief synopsis of the plot. ***[SPOILER WARNING]*** A dirty bomb goes off in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia and is hardly mentioned again. A military Directorate overthrows the Communist Party in China. With Russian help, China invades Pearl Harbor with tanks and drones off a commercial cargo ship. They shoot down all American satellites with lasers from their space station. They destroy the entire U.S. Pacific Fleet, render all our F-35 stealth aircraft unusable through compromised computer chips manufactured in China, and they discover a way to detect and track our nuclear submarines rendering them ineffective. Our allies abandon us (NATO disbands and we seemingly abandon Japan). Following this utterly devastating attack, America’s best response is a bunch of Red Dawn wannabes waging an insurgency in Hawaii (complete with a mentally unstable surfing assassin prostitute). We resurrect retired aircraft and navy ships from the boneyard/reserve fleet (the principal one being an experimental destroyer with a rail gun). We bring back a bunch of old retirees to train the millennial draftees (think of that cheesy scene in the movie Battleship). We give nukes to Poland in exchange for diesel submarines and send an eccentric Australian billionaire space pirate up to capture the Chinese space station. With our ghost fleet, we launch an amphibious invasion and recapture Hawaii. The war ends status quo ante bellum. Most of my objections to this take on future war can be binned into a few overarching categories: Nuclear Weapons It is patently absurd that the United States would not use (or threaten to use) nuclear weapons in Singer’s scenario. The rational given for not using them is that it would be too escalatory (never mind the fact that a precedent was already set by a dirty bomb going off in Dhahran in this story). I’m sorry, but China not only conquered the State of Hawaii and destroyed our military presence in the Pacific, they destroyed all US satellites including our GPS constellation. Do you have any idea how catastrophic that would be to our modern way of life? The loss of GPS would cripple civil aviation, global shipping and trade, and telecommunications networks (modern computer, cell phone, and television networks all rely on GPS timing to function). Depending on how long it would take to recover from this disruption and develop alternative means of functioning, the second order consequences of this could range anywhere from mass riots to starvation (as the most extreme case). So, yah, China just destroyed our military AND our way of life, but we wouldn’t want to be too escalatory by using nuclear weapons. I’m sorry, I don’t care who the President is or what political party he is from, he pushes the button. It’s a catch-22…he has to push the button because it’s the only thing preventing this very scenario in the first place. Geopolitics / International Relations It is pretty obvious that the scenario is nothing more than a backdrop for exploring the technology issues of interest to the authors. Unfortunately, the whole scenario is so unrealistic it actually undermines his attempt to warn us about our technological dependence. There are a lot of geopolitical issues with his scenario. First, Russia is terrified of China. There is absolutely no reason they would conspire with China to make them even stronger. Russia may hate the United States, but we’re not in their backyard about to spill over their sparsely populated southern border. Second, Japan and China are mortal enemies with animosities dating back centuries. In no conceivable universe would a Japan delegation be attending conferences with Chinese officials in occupied Hawaii in the middle of a World War. Third, I find it far-fetched that the rest of the world would sit by while China and Russia violently overthrow the existing international order. If he wants to have NATO dissolve for the purposes of having the US go it alone in his story, fine. But you think the nations of Europe are just going to say “that’s cool” and go on treating China and Russia like normal trading partners? If China conquers US territory with such impunity, you don’t think the nations of Europe would be terrified that Russia would attempt the same against them? I’m sorry, international relations between every Western country and China/Russia would be irreparably damaged. Economics This point has already been mentioned tangentially above, but it is big enough to list it as a separate issue. The authors seriously underestimate the global economic disruption of the scenario they concoct. Sure, the UK and Germany had a lot of trade before WWII and they still went to war. I’m no economic expert, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that with globalization and the proliferation of free trade agreements, the importance of international trade to the global economy is vastly greater than it was 100 years ago. It is entirely plausible that the world plunges into another Great Depression based on this scenario. The authors just seem to ignore this entirely (in the novel they’re still giving free tickets to the troops for San Francisco Giants games as if life was just going on like normal). Insurgency Hawaiians wage an insurgency campaign against the Chinese. The author’s idea being to turn the tables on China, giving them a taste of the frustrating conflicts we’ve been dealing with for the last 16 years in Afghanistan and Iraq. In their scenario, China tries to avoid committing atrocities because they are supposedly worried about world opinion. I’m sorry, but this is just silly. This is a military Directorate (brutal enough to overthrow the Communist Party) that just invaded the United States, and is armed with facial recognition algorithms and hunter-killer drones…I’m pretty sure they’ve already lost world opinion and by this stage would have zero qualms wiping out everybody on the island if they thought it necessary. Technology Technology is the focus of the novel. Some of the issues they raise here are interesting, others farcical. On the silly side, we have their fascination with Google Glass-style “viz-glasses”. I’m pretty sure that fad died before it even got off the ground. Maybe it will make a surprise comeback someday when human beings are less vain, but its inclusion and centrality to so much of the plot just makes the authors seem like they are just as clueless as everybody else when it comes to future technology trends. For some strange reason, there is a Klingon-speaking prostitute with “biomorphic” inflatable boobs. Seriously, what’s the deal with that? It is so hard to take the rest of the book seriously when stupid stuff like that is included. A third silly angle is the Chinese and Russians inventing some Star Trek-esque way of tracking our nuclear submarines. If the authors are really trying to imagine war in the future, their inclusion of this magic solution just detracts from any real exploration of what the naval battlefield will actually look like. Fourth, apparently in the near future we are totally cool with all our soldiers and sailors taking drugs. In a dozen or so scenes, taking “stims” is discussed as if it was as benign as drinking coffee. The story does explore some worthwhile technological issues. Because the United States has not had to fight a peer competitor since WWII, it is worthwhile to explore how we would operate without air superiority or the technology we have become so dependent on (GPS, stealth, etc). I’ve already ranted enough about the GPS angle above so I won’t beat that dead horse any longer. In the novel, our F-35 fighter aircraft are rendered vulnerable to attack by compromised computer components manufactured in China. It’s not really a new idea…Battlestar Galactica basically showed the same thing back in the 2003 miniseries (a decade before this book) in much more convincing fashion. With so much of our technology manufactured overseas (as discussed in the economic section above) this is a legitimate concern and something we should be exploring. Related to this, the authors have Wal-Mart come to the rescue, manufacturing parts through 3D printing. It is an interesting concept and I do wish it was given more than a brief mention in the book. I’m genuinely curious about how realistic it is to mass produce needed parts using these techniques and wish there was more detail on it. Drones, facial recognition algorithms, and cyber attacks are some of the more realistic technological aspects in the book and were a good inclusion. Weaponizing space has been a contentious topic in the space community. I like that Singer included this aspect, but wish it was grounded a little more in reality. Sending an eccentric billionaire up as a space privateer (rather than just nuking this Death Star-like space station) just seemed absurd. Our dependence on technology (especially in war) is a legitimate concern and I applaud the authors for trying to draw attention to the topic. I just think the total lack of realism undermines what they set out to do.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Actually a DNF. The first 50 or so pages are just horrid. I like tech thrillers and Navy stories. Especially with submarines. Here, it looked interesting, with the Zumwalt on the cover and a promise of next generation total war. In the first few parts of the book, I've been to a lot of the places. Suisun Bay. Okinawa. Neat. But no. The authors want to be 15-20 years ahead of today. OK. It is supposed to be based on real or upcoming technology. OK. But the authors really don't understand how things Actually a DNF. The first 50 or so pages are just horrid. I like tech thrillers and Navy stories. Especially with submarines. Here, it looked interesting, with the Zumwalt on the cover and a promise of next generation total war. In the first few parts of the book, I've been to a lot of the places. Suisun Bay. Okinawa. Neat. But no. The authors want to be 15-20 years ahead of today. OK. It is supposed to be based on real or upcoming technology. OK. But the authors really don't understand how things are supposed to work. Or change it so radically as to allow the "bad" guys (China and Russia here) to overwhelm the "good" guys (USA and Pacific allies) in a single blow. The Prologue makes no sense, with the US astronaut on the ISS being locked outside to die. Eh? The reason for the Chinese government to take out the US military is weak. Big wars don't work well (its the smaller conflicts that dominate). Why would China want to screw the world economy, to which most of the planet is hooked into? The biggest thing that turned me off, not the wooden characters, or the presentation of Americans as inept and complacent, but the realm of computer technology. The authors state they want to be rooted in the real. But what they did in the first few pages is at the level of a comic book. Lots of wishful dreaming. A malware bit is somehow able to ride an RFID badge through security in order to infect an air gapped network. Which the Chinese hacker lady is then able to control magically. No, doesn't happen that way. The cover says _Hunt For Red October_ crossed with Battlestar Galactica. Nope. _Red October_ was about hunting for a single submarine. _Red Storm Rising_ would be the better reference, but that was a book that was gamed using Harpoon, so the authors had a basis for the plot points. This book doesn't have any of that. I'm peeved as I'm 1-4 in my last round of books. I recommend avoiding this book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jim D

    Wow! What a read. If you like fast paced techno-thrillers like the Hunt for Red October, you will love this book. Also, if you are concerned about the future, and what could happen in a future conflict, read this book. The authors, using outside the box thinking, have posited a scenario that is all too plausible. We rely totally on our satellites, our command and control, our intelligence assets, our advanced weaponry... but what if those things weren't there anymore, or didn't work? This book s Wow! What a read. If you like fast paced techno-thrillers like the Hunt for Red October, you will love this book. Also, if you are concerned about the future, and what could happen in a future conflict, read this book. The authors, using outside the box thinking, have posited a scenario that is all too plausible. We rely totally on our satellites, our command and control, our intelligence assets, our advanced weaponry... but what if those things weren't there anymore, or didn't work? This book should be mandatory reading for all military and political leaders. It is criminal to take our adversaries for granted. This book will make you think.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Chris Gager

    A loaner from work-friend Dan(a former career Navy pilot). May start tonight, time permitting. Got into this page-turning techno-thriller last night. It helps to have been in the military, especially the Navy(I was) but its not essential. I assume that other techno-geeks might be able to find flaws and faults in the plotting and details, but I can't. I was pleased to see the Zumwalt get some page-time. I gather from reading other reviews that it will be coming back to the plot. The "Z" was built A loaner from work-friend Dan(a former career Navy pilot). May start tonight, time permitting. Got into this page-turning techno-thriller last night. It helps to have been in the military, especially the Navy(I was) but its not essential. I assume that other techno-geeks might be able to find flaws and faults in the plotting and details, but I can't. I was pleased to see the Zumwalt get some page-time. I gather from reading other reviews that it will be coming back to the plot. The "Z" was built right down the road from where I live and I knew one of its crew. I hope its early problems are behind it. Apparently its rail gun(s?) will be coming in to play later on too. I'm not sure any rail gun was aboard when it sailed downriver from Bath for the last time. Installed later perhaps? Back at it tonight as the authors don't spend any more time than necessary in set-up before the bleep hits the fan. Pretty scary ... - Reminds of "The Martian" for its attention to detail and "Ready Player One" - of course. - When I was in the Navy we just said "NSA," not "the NSA" - In the don't write about what you don't know about department: " ... but the no-hitter by Parsons fell apart at the bottom of the eighth ..." should read "but Parsons' no-hitter fell apart in the bottom of the eighth ..." or " ... but Parson's lost his no-hitter in the bottom of the eighth ..." I passed the halfway point in this too-long book last night, but it required some skip=skimming to get there. There's just too much going on here as the authors parade bits and pieces of plot across the pages encased in teensie-weensie chapters. I guess if you have that many threads to weave that's the way you have to do it. Still, I want to know the outcome so I'll be back at it tonight. Probably to the finish. The overall idea is compelling, but competent literary execution is a bridge too far for the co-authors. So ... plenty of notes - - The plot(so far) is basically a re-hash of the beginning of WWII for the US in the Pacific, with the Chinese taking the part of the Japanese. THIS time the attackers succeed in taking over Oahu, something the Japanese did not attempt, though some say they ought to have done it. I question the feasibility of an effective resistance movement on such a small island, however. Just one of MANY logical problems here. - Why the serial killer-babe???? It's just a time-and-space waster/filler. Dean Koontz territory. - So, the Chinese KNOW that the USA is preparing a response on the mainland to take back what was lost. So far I don't see any attempt by the Chinese to stop them. They(the Chinese) certainly seem to have had the means to do that, or at least harass them. The Japanese did not/could not, of course. - The conflict on the Zumwalt between a Chinese-American Engineer(she's gonna save the day - you just KNOW it) and a racist crew member is phoney-baloney. Why wasn't he removed after the first incident? - Heads are a-whipping. A Dan Brown-ism that points the way to this book's (bad)literary cousin. - As I wondered why there was no big-nuke response/punishment the authors came up with an explanation. Seemed reasonable enough. - The escape of the Coronado from Pearl Harbor reminds of "In Harm's Way." - Is it conceivable that the USA could have been SO unprepared? Again with the Pearl Harbor analogy. The basic point being that China is coming up fast on the outside tech-wise and that the USA is too bound by outmoded thinking and strategy is well worth contemplating. - I see that I'm back in Hawaii for a third time in recent weeks. First came "Barbarian Days," then "From Here to Eternity" and now this one. - Bangor is NOT on the coast! - The captain's wife complains - NOT credible - there's a huge f'ing war on for Christ's sake. In this and other attempts to "humanize" the story the author's fail. They just can't do the real human stuff. Why bother. This book's about WAR! - Just say "Wake Forest," not "Wake Forest University." - The Zumwalt comes to be front and center stage. I passed BIW(where the "Z" was built) this morning heading back home and could see the next ship of that class being built. It's in the water ... Finished up last night with a mini-Armageddon. More questions of logical sense abound but I'll let that go. Some plot threads are short-shrifted and it hurts. I understand ... this book was too long as is. A fun book to skim. The end notes are a hoot too. - Some cool bits of North Shore trivia are included. Places I've been and close to where I lived: the old air strip outside Haleiwa and Ehukai Beach. Plus that white radar dome over-looking Makaha. - 2.75* rounds up to *3. Hooray for the Zumwalt and it's rail gun(does it have one now?)!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Yzabel Ginsberg

    [I received an advanced copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.] DNF at 56%. I tried, I really tried, but it's been weeks and I just can't get interested in the story or the characters. I don't mind when there is more than two or three, I don't mind short chapters in general; only it's not working at all for me in this novel, and halfway in, I still don't care about what's happening to whom, whether the insurgents will survive, whether Carrie will be found out or no [I received an advanced copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.] DNF at 56%. I tried, I really tried, but it's been weeks and I just can't get interested in the story or the characters. I don't mind when there is more than two or three, I don't mind short chapters in general; only it's not working at all for me in this novel, and halfway in, I still don't care about what's happening to whom, whether the insurgents will survive, whether Carrie will be found out or not, whether Jamie will mend his relationship with his father... I see, strictly speaking, where it is going. Yet it doesn't matter, because it's going in a very dry way that makes everything confusing after a while, all the more as reading a few pages, then leaving the book again for a couple of days doesn't help (not being interested enough to keep trudging through it, that is). The other, really important thing not working for me is how little is actually given in terms of geopolitics, even though the characters talk about it; that's info-dumping without actually giving enough information. There is the Directorate (the new China), allied with the Russians, waging a blitzkrieg on the United States by taking down satellite coverage and basically scrambling communications, GPS on board of planes, etc. Clever and efficient plan, yet why exactly? I would have wanted to learn so, so much about how this state of war came to be, what strings of events led to such a decision, why the NATO countries dropped out of it so fast. So many things just don't make sense without more background here. I think such a book demands additional information (and handled differently), otherwise it's not believable. The technological aspect was somewhat OK. A bit heavy-handed, though (nothing really "new", some devices were pretty similar to ours only with a more "futuristic" name). I didn't love nor hate it, which is already something, I guess. I'm rather sad, because this story had potential, especially regarding the level of creativity the insurgents came to (Walmart going to war as an underground supply chain: both funny and oddly logical), but it didn't deliver on the human and global relationships factor, at least not when it comes to what I expected from it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I picked up a copy of this book because it sounded right up my alley. Which I did like this book but the story was just that "Ok". IT was intriguing enough that I was already half way through it before I put it down. Yet, if you asked me to describe what happened in the first half of the book, I could not really tell you. It did not stick with me completely. It was like it was almost there for me but not quite. This is because while the story was interesting, this time for me it was about the ch I picked up a copy of this book because it sounded right up my alley. Which I did like this book but the story was just that "Ok". IT was intriguing enough that I was already half way through it before I put it down. Yet, if you asked me to describe what happened in the first half of the book, I could not really tell you. It did not stick with me completely. It was like it was almost there for me but not quite. This is because while the story was interesting, this time for me it was about the characters. There was no one or two or even three characters that I could attach myself to emotionally in this book. If I had been able to get close to at least someone then this would have been a different reading experience for me. I would have been able to immerse myself more into the storyline and be fighting. Also no country stood out for me as a strong contender in this story as well.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I tried, I really tried, to hang in there and get through this book so I could see how the Americans triumphed at the end with the combo of old tech and whiz-bang new tech, but no. The writing is so atrocious, the sexism so cringe-worthy and unrelenting, the triteness of it all so deeply boring that there was no way to simply enjoy the cool military gizmos or big and small war narratives. What a frikking shame. Not least because the military bits are cool and scary and cut a little close to the I tried, I really tried, to hang in there and get through this book so I could see how the Americans triumphed at the end with the combo of old tech and whiz-bang new tech, but no. The writing is so atrocious, the sexism so cringe-worthy and unrelenting, the triteness of it all so deeply boring that there was no way to simply enjoy the cool military gizmos or big and small war narratives. What a frikking shame. Not least because the military bits are cool and scary and cut a little close to the bone. Ah, well. On to better things.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bee

    "Massive enjoyable near future military fiction." Very entertaining, and very believable in its extrapolation of current technology into a future setting. Drone warfare and hacker armies battling alongside 20th-century naval vessels. The Characters all felt real. The tension wasn't forced. Exactly what the blurb offered and more. "Massive enjoyable near future military fiction." Very entertaining, and very believable in its extrapolation of current technology into a future setting. Drone warfare and hacker armies battling alongside 20th-century naval vessels. The Characters all felt real. The tension wasn't forced. Exactly what the blurb offered and more.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Connor

    Trash writing, but the technology featured is fascinating

  20. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    The Economist rarely reviews science fiction, so I paid attention when they reviewed this one in Chronicle of a war foretold, and even more after they interviewed the authors and discussed the unusual origin of the book — enough to put this on my To Be Read shelf read this. It was a kick. Predictably reminiscent of early Tom Clancy, before he corrupted his technowar thriller series with his naive variation of libertarian politics. I especially enjoyed how the North Shore Mujahadeen subverted t The Economist rarely reviews science fiction, so I paid attention when they reviewed this one in Chronicle of a war foretold, and even more after they interviewed the authors and discussed the unusual origin of the book — enough to put this on my To Be Read shelf read this. It was a kick. Predictably reminiscent of early Tom Clancy, before he corrupted his technowar thriller series with his naive variation of libertarian politics. I especially enjoyed how the North Shore Mujahadeen subverted the traditional role the U.S. plays in a conflict, and the exploration of the morality of Dirty Hands in guerilla strategy. There was a little too much U.S.A.-rah-rah, however, with quite a bit of obvious cultural stereotypes. Oh, and few spoilers: (view spoiler)[A key vulnerability that cripples the U.S. at the beginning is that the microchips sourced from low-bidders came from China, who had compromised the designs. The key phrase was “Each antenna was microscopic, hidden inside a one-millimeter square and activated only by a specific frequency of an incoming missile.” I'm not an expert, but I do know technology relatively well. First, circuits looks like cityscapes from a few thousand feet up, and a one-millimeter square would be about as obvious as a football stadium surrounded by parking lots. Security agencies have been studying aerial photographs since forever (you might recall that U-2 aerial photography revealed the distinctive pattern of Soviet missile installations). I know that there are companies that specialize in back-engineering chips (a college friend worked at one) that shave off the plastic around the silicon chip until they can get images of the circuitry. It seems pretty damn obvious that the U.S. military would use these two very reliable abilities to inspect a representative sample of the chips going into weapon systems. Second, even if the antennas got into the chip, a one-millimeter antenna is going to be pretty wimpy. A bluetooth antenna is 6mm across its largest dimension. Something that small will only respond to incredibly high frequencies, which are easier to shield. Sure, an incoming missile could be dumping staggering amounts of energy into broadcasting a signal that could be picked up miles away by a microscopic antenna, I guess — but doesn’t it still seem really fishy? Third, even if the antennas got into the chip, asserting that the associated firmware could also get onto the chip is implausible. Microprocessors typically don't have software on-chip; they get it from RAM and ROM elsewhere in the system. So without firmware, the Chinese designer would also have to install dedicated circuitry listening to that antenna, doing signal processing, detecting when a valid signal had been received, and then subverting the rest of the system's behavior — all without ever doing actual field-testing. It might not seem like much, but really the idea is laughable, and it's a pretty critical part of the collapse of the U.S. military capability. Similarly, there's a Security-Badge RFID hack that disrupts the U.S. military offices at the beginning. RFIDs chips are absurdly simple: they use an antenna to receive power, which provides enough energy to do some very minimal processing, and then broadcasts a signal at a much, much lower power level. But here, the RFID chips are sophisticated enough to be doing wardriving, looking for weak wifi signals once inside the building, and then sustaining a connection long enough to upload pretty sophisticated hostile software. Uh, no: the kinds of electronics detection equipment used in a secure installation would never be fooled that something that complex is a security badge, no matter how much it tries to look like one. And since it's going to need a moderately power battery onboard (the power received by an upstream RFID query isn't going to be anywhere near enough) it's going to be very, very obvious. (hide spoiler)] All in all, a great technowar thriller. If you like that kinda stuff, read it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Three stars for narrative and characterization, but 4-5 stars for scaring me about how dependent we are on computer technology. Not much in character development, but a very scary novel of possibilities. We are all so dependent on technology--from the individual shopping online to big banks and financial institutions to...the military. What happens when something cuts the communication? Can you imagine? It isn't that we aren't aware of the dangers, but I doubt many of us have truly considered all Three stars for narrative and characterization, but 4-5 stars for scaring me about how dependent we are on computer technology. Not much in character development, but a very scary novel of possibilities. We are all so dependent on technology--from the individual shopping online to big banks and financial institutions to...the military. What happens when something cuts the communication? Can you imagine? It isn't that we aren't aware of the dangers, but I doubt many of us have truly considered all of the ramifications involving an attack on the U.S. that impaired or destroyed our ability to use the computer technology that is a major part of our defense system. How possible is this scenario? Could a country actually invade our military computers with viruses? Destroy the communication satellites? Let's just say that the military is aware of the possibilities. The Navy bought fake microchips according to this 2011 article in Business Insider. The problems were discovered, but it does leave a creepy feeling about how hyper-alert the military must be since computers are involved in almost every phase of our defense system. I will admit to being terrified by the scenario the authors described. It sounded so plausible. As it turns out, it is much more than plausible even if some of the technology is not yet available. P.W. Singer and August Cole are uniquely qualified to make the predictions of what might occur in a third world war. Singer is a specialist in 21st century warfare and has worked for the Defense Department. Cole also specializes in national security issues. Check the above links to get an idea of expertise each man offers. Is it a great novel? No, and I wish it had been; but it did scare the bejeezus out of me. :) It is a chilling look at the precarious nature of our dependence on technology--our strength and our weakness. read in april; blog review scheduled for June 15. A Garden Carried in the Pocket NetGalley/ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Suspense/Tech thriller. June 30, 2015

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sanjay Varma

    Incredibly disappointing book. It presents itself as a Tom Clancy novel but it lacks the characters, motivations, and strategies that made Clancy novels so exceptional. Every female character is a prostitute, while male characters cannot even be described as one dimensional. Missing too, is any resemblance to geopolitical realism. Countries form alliances and attack each other for no particular reason. This book copies a lot of its technologies and tactics from Iain Banks' sci-fi novels, Frank He Incredibly disappointing book. It presents itself as a Tom Clancy novel but it lacks the characters, motivations, and strategies that made Clancy novels so exceptional. Every female character is a prostitute, while male characters cannot even be described as one dimensional. Missing too, is any resemblance to geopolitical realism. Countries form alliances and attack each other for no particular reason. This book copies a lot of its technologies and tactics from Iain Banks' sci-fi novels, Frank Herbert's "Heretics of Dune", and the Battlestar Galactica TV show reboot. Technologies include drones, super soldier drugs, exo-skeleton suits, lasers, batteries, etc. Tactics include camouflage, guerrilla warfare, space warfare, cyber warfare. The initial battle is interesting but too rapid. The lengthy middle, in which America plans the counter attack, is boring. (Let's get a giant battery to work to power the rail gun!) The final battle strategy is preposterous: America defeats China's new technologies by reviving older technologies such as diesel-powered submarines, F-15 fighter jets, stealth battleships, and a "rail gun." Not since the movie "Independence Day" has the F-15 hit such a stretch goal.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Janell

    It usually takes me a few days to read a book but for some reason, Ghost Fleet did not hold my interest and it took me a while to read it. The storyline is okay with China going after the USA but it seems to lack something. I just couldn't see the US sitting on their butts not doing anything and China getting the drop on us and for me it was a bit hard to swallow. The technical writing was good and not overbearing. Character development was poor as you really never got to know them. Overall it wa It usually takes me a few days to read a book but for some reason, Ghost Fleet did not hold my interest and it took me a while to read it. The storyline is okay with China going after the USA but it seems to lack something. I just couldn't see the US sitting on their butts not doing anything and China getting the drop on us and for me it was a bit hard to swallow. The technical writing was good and not overbearing. Character development was poor as you really never got to know them. Overall it was an okay book but not great.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Randal White

    An exciting book, akin to early Clancy. Lots of action. Very, very well researched (just see the footnotes, they're awesome)! Would have been five stars, if there had just been more attention (or any at all) paid to what was happening in the government and NATO during the whole war. But will definitely read his next book! An exciting book, akin to early Clancy. Lots of action. Very, very well researched (just see the footnotes, they're awesome)! Would have been five stars, if there had just been more attention (or any at all) paid to what was happening in the government and NATO during the whole war. But will definitely read his next book!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joseph DiFrancesco

    Singer & Cole didn't miss a trick. This book was fascinating and intelligent 'till the very end. I found the technical aspects involving war in the worlds of today, yesterday and tomorrow, intriguing as well as haunting. I hope to see more from these two. I only wish Tom Clancy was still alive to give it a read. Singer & Cole didn't miss a trick. This book was fascinating and intelligent 'till the very end. I found the technical aspects involving war in the worlds of today, yesterday and tomorrow, intriguing as well as haunting. I hope to see more from these two. I only wish Tom Clancy was still alive to give it a read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kev Chaloner

    Irritating and predictable.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    I agree with many of the critics, that "Ghost Fleet" is the bringing of Tom Clancy's 1980s techno thriller "Red Storm Rising," into the 21st Century...A scenario that's part reality and part SciFi, but a scenario that is all too plausible as the PRC has become such an integrated part of America's technological world...very scary novel of possibilities...Solid, page-turning thriller!!! I agree with many of the critics, that "Ghost Fleet" is the bringing of Tom Clancy's 1980s techno thriller "Red Storm Rising," into the 21st Century...A scenario that's part reality and part SciFi, but a scenario that is all too plausible as the PRC has become such an integrated part of America's technological world...very scary novel of possibilities...Solid, page-turning thriller!!!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    The writing of this book is absolutely atrocious. I couldn’t finish it. Just awful. Don’t waste your time.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chris Chester

    tl;dr Ghost Fleet reminds me a lot of Independence Day, but with the Chinese instead of aliens, and written by Tom Clancy under supervision of a defense contractor. I would certainly never classify this book as good. At its best, it's a page-turning thriller for those who have strong feelings about various military weapon systems, possess a real visceral fear about the inevitable end of American hegemony, and who talk about "The Chinese" with a mixture of revulsion and fear. So basically, your ru tl;dr Ghost Fleet reminds me a lot of Independence Day, but with the Chinese instead of aliens, and written by Tom Clancy under supervision of a defense contractor. I would certainly never classify this book as good. At its best, it's a page-turning thriller for those who have strong feelings about various military weapon systems, possess a real visceral fear about the inevitable end of American hegemony, and who talk about "The Chinese" with a mixture of revulsion and fear. So basically, your run of the mill baby boomer. The entreaties to this graying demographic are not hard to spot at all. The closest thing the book has to a protagonist is a Naval officer with pronounced daddy issues. There are almost constant references to young people being overly wrapped up in their futurey Google Glass stand-ins for the modern smartphone. The only thing that can save the American military after a crushing Pearl Harbor repeat is the accumulated knowledge of retired Navy officers along with good old fashioned non-computerized ships. But I didn't expect this to be a work of literature. I picked it up because I was curious to see what work of fiction berthed from the belly of think tanks like the Atlantic Council and New America Foundation would make of the future of warfare, and especially the outline of a future conflict with China and Russia. Their vision is clear from the variety of toys that play a big role in Ghost Fleet: drones, rail guns, a battle for supremacy in space, the vulnerabilities of Chinese-produced microchips, stimulants for soldiers, light aircraft carriers, the maligned F35. There is probably some accuracy to how these things are conveyed, but it is rare that fiction actually captures what futuristic warfare will look like. More often, they are statements about the present. What I found less compelling were the human elements depicted in the novel. If China conquered Hawaii, which I found plausible, do people really thing the natives will go guerrilla on our behalf? The notion that juggernauts like Walmart, Google and Anonymous could be mobilized as part of a military effort also struck me as laughable given the transnational focus of all of those organizations. More generally, I thought it was telling that, while the authors had sketched economic changes like a recession following the fall of the house of Saud, the day to day reality for Americans in the future was basically the same, except with more advanced technology. Where is the decay of American infrastructure? What about the effects of sea level rise? Do we really presume that military outlays will continue as they are now even after decades of economic anemia? But then, that wasn't the purpose of this book, I suppose. The point was to sell people with salt and pepper hair on the virtues of expensive new military systems by scaring them a little bit. In that, it may well be a success.

  30. 4 out of 5

    G.H. Eckel

    I like techno thrillers and I picked up the book because I heard the military was studying it as a forward-thinking treatise about the next war. It is that. And I do find it fascinating that a work of fiction can affect the "real" world. The high points of the book are about 20% in, where the Chinese knock down our satellites. Once they do, the skies become theirs and their navy then has room to wage war. The other exciting part is the climax near the end. In between, the authors give us terrori I like techno thrillers and I picked up the book because I heard the military was studying it as a forward-thinking treatise about the next war. It is that. And I do find it fascinating that a work of fiction can affect the "real" world. The high points of the book are about 20% in, where the Chinese knock down our satellites. Once they do, the skies become theirs and their navy then has room to wage war. The other exciting part is the climax near the end. In between, the authors give us terrorist acts by a beautiful woman on Hawaii, a saga of son vs. dad, and the reclamation project of the abandoned Zumwalt-class ship, part of the ghost fleet, which is moth-balled naval ships in dock ready for use just in case. All of the elements are there for a good book: the human element of dad/son, the Tora Tora Tora Chinese admiral spouting Sung Tzu at every opportunity, Pearl Harbor reenacted in the techno age, genuine high tech that has plausibility. But the elements don't quite rise to the level of engaging our hearts. The characters never quite get beyond two dimensions. The dialog is stiff and stories go unfulfilled. The authors throw in a deus ex machina, capricious death at the end to grab us, but it doesn't. The dad figure, crewman on his son's ship, falls for a younger, Chinese scientist on board but we don't feel any of the passion and their story is deserted. The beginning of the book that tries to present a "normal" life and the distance between father and son is dull. The middle part of the book drags. Why would China, now in control of the Pacific not press forward as Sung Tzu advised? Why wouldn't the authors choose to write about that exciting adventure? So, it's not Red Storm Rising. The authors previously wrote non fiction books about things like cyber warfare. They've turned their efforts toward fiction but the novel still reads too much like non fiction. A majority of the book shows the author's love of high tech and novel weaponry--rail guns, anti-satellite weapons, laser canons--as a good high tech novel should, but that same interest and care doesn't quite extend to the characters. If you're a die-hard, techno-thriller reader, you'll make it through this book. The authors do have the potential of writing something even more interesting and I look forward to that.

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